Saturday, April 23, 2011

Alphabet Soup - a little fable for writers

This week for Story Sunday, I give you "Alphabet Soup." I wrote this originally as a children's story but, like a lot of my fairy tales, this really seems more like a fable for writers. Sometimes stories really do act like this.


"Alphabet Soup"
by Camille LaGuire

THERE ONCE WAS an author who ate a lot of soup. Like many authors and artists, he lived in a garret, which is a cold little room in an attic. In his garret he had a bed, a chair, a table, a stove, a pot and a shelf. On the shelf he kept the books which he had written.

He had written a lot of books, though nobody had read them. The words inside the books felt they were quite special anyway. After all, none of the other things in the room could think. The words could think a lot, and they thought mostly about themselves.

"We are the most important things in this room," they thought. "Words make up ideas, and ideas are the most important things ever to exist."

They were very proud of themselves.

The author, however, was not very proud of himself. Nobody ever read his books. Every time he showed them to someone, it seemed like the words had moved around, and the story was not as good as when he wrote it. People did not buy many of his books, so he was very poor. He never had much to eat.

One day he had nothing but some broth. It was very thin broth, almost all water. He heated it up on his stove and took a sip to see if it was ready. It was so thin that it did not have any flavor.

"This soup is just going to make me feel worse," he said, and he decided to go to bed without eating it.

The words inside the books were worried. Why was the author so poor? Why, they wondered, did no one buy them and make him rich? They started to talk about it, but soon they began to argue. (Because, after all, arguing is what words to best.)

"Our book is the best book ever written," said the words in the first book. "The rest of you are so bad, it must be your fault that nobody wants to buy us!"

The other books, of course, all said that they were the best books ever written. They argued and argued. Then the chapters within each book started to argue with each other, each saying it was best. Then the paragraphs began to argue, and then even the sentences. Pretty soon each word was arguing with every other word. They got so noisy, that they woke the author up. He sat up in his bed and looked around. He could not tell where the noise was coming from.

Then the words began to break apart, and the letters began to fight with each other. They couldn't really argue anymore once they weren't words, but they could make a lot of noise.

"Rrrrrrr!" growled the r.

"H h h h," panted the h.

"T t t t!" tisked the t.

Then the capital A kicked the small h with its foot, and the h swung its top around to hit the A back. It missed and knocked the dot from the top of the small j. Suddenly every letter was fighting with every other letter. They poured out of the books and onto the shelf, piling into a great battle that amazed the frightened author.

The shelf began to shake, but the letters didn't even notice. Then the shelf broke and spilled all the books on the floor. The letters fell into the pan on the stove.

The author jumped out of bed and picked up his books. The pages were empty. Not one letter had stayed in the books. He felt terrible. He had spent his whole life writing those books, and now they were gone!

His stomach growled, and he remembered how hungry he was. He looked at the soup on the stove. That's when he saw where all his letters had gone. They were in a thick jumble. He would never get them back into order.

But now his thin broth was thick soup.

He was hungry.

Oh well, he thought. I might as well just eat it. At least I will have a full stomach. He ate the soup, which was very satisfying, and then went back to bed. All night he digested the letters, and when he woke up he began to write the books all over again.

This time the books really were the best ever written, because the letters had learned their lesson, and this time they stayed where the author put them.


I hope to put a few more of these fables for writers together, and maybe make a collection some day. In the meantime, read my Story Notes about "Alphabet Soup" tomorrow.

You can read more of my fantasy fiction in The Bellhound, Four Tales of Modern Magic at all Amazon Kindle Stores: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon DE. As well as at other ebook retailers: Smashwords, Barnes and Nobel, Apple iBookstore, Nook, and Sony.


David Michael said...

"Rrrrrrr!" growled the r.

I loved that bit. =)


The Daring Novelist said...

Heh heh --

It's all about characterization and detail. That R was really feeling it!